Ian Hirschsohn was born in Johannesburg, in June, 1942, and grew up in South Africa. When he was six, his parents split up and he spent the next four years in a home for children from broken families. Like Shaka, Ian learned to fend for himself from an early age and to appreciate how Shaka must have felt. When his mother later married a doctor who worked among blacks in Soweto, Ian became acquainted with the Bantu culture so foreign to most whites. He visited his step-dad in Baragwanth Hospital that serviced over a million blacks and which saw more stab wounds in a single year than Britain has had since the 15th century. Ian was astounded at the resilience of African men who sat, or lay, patiently awaiting treatment in silence. With severe wounds, from brawls, the men filled the hospital passages as if it were on a battle front. Yet they were treated expeditiously by experienced, calm professionals and most survived. This impressed upon Ian the toughness of Shaka's Zulus and those they fought.
Ian died tragically in August 2020 in Baja California, Mexico
As a student of Mechanical Engineering at the Witwatersrand University, in Johannesburg, Ian was required to work in industry for his practical training. Curious to experience one of the toughest work environments anywhere, he requested posting to the gold mines. He spent almost a year on Lorraine, Rand Leases, and Hartebeesfontein mines and asked to work underground alongside black miners sweating almost two miles straight down, where the temperature approaches the limit of human endurance. So far down, the rock pressure is beyond that facing any deep-sea vehicle and there is little hope of rescue should a tunnel collapse. Ian was fascinated by the tough Zulus, Shangaans, Sesothos, Xhosas and other black peoples, who came from their country villages.
As a student, Ian hitch-hiked around southern Africa and, with limited funds, he usually passed the night by asking for a cell at the nearest police station. He spent almost a month of days in jails from Cape Town to the Congo border. Ian was so intrigued by the tales told by the police in outlying towns, that even when he later could afford a hotel he still went to the nearest police station. He found that if there is one group that really knows what is going on, it's the police. Ian worked his passage from Cape Town to Bristol, England repairing the diesel generators in the sauna-like engine room of a freighter. He went on to graduate study in Aerospace Engineering in America and eventually wound up in San Diego, California. When he retired, Ian resolved to tell the story of the Zulus he admired so much. Ian now indulges his great passion: windsurfing ocean waves. He flies his little bush-plane, a Maule, to remote surf spots in Baja, Mexico. Ian loves the wild outdoors and his other passion is kayaking surf and whitewater (he has run the Grand Canyon, and other boiling rivers, in a kayak). Like Hemingway, Ian believes that if you don't live life, you can't write about it.
Her father was an architect/engineer, her mother an artist and educator. The family lived on a small farm just north of Vegas, where her parents believed that while Jan and her siblings might not become farmers, the hard labor would serve them well later. On the farm, Jan helped to grow organic fruits and melons, to upholster furniture, lay tile floors, and can fruits. Her aunt, a doctor, set up a laboratory in a room in the ranch hand quarters, where the Cody children dabbled in chemistry. Loud explosions frequently rocked the neighborhood as the children experimented with various formulas for rocket fuel.
Jan found the fast paced and athletic chess of fencing a balm for her restless spirit. She also sought solace in music and reading: fascinated by Greek Myths, and the works of Hemmingway, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Jan used her flute to carry her from the scorching Mojave heat to the cool climes of Grieg, Mozart, and Bach. She dreamed of visiting their countries and, when she did, she immersed herself in the art and culture of Europe. Jan also developed a passion for science, social anthropology, and languages. Her love of diverse music, dance and painting led to her being attracted to the life of Shaka and his Zulus. Tall and leggy, Jan put herself through university by modeling, and dancing in Las Vegas shows and television. Jan received her PhD in psychology in 1980 with a dissertation on women working in shows in Las Vegas, a first. During her research, an organized crime boss demanded that she become his bride; he attempted to attack her, but was held back by two of his body guards; one of whom said, “leave da kid alone, she’s got a future.” Jan learned first hand what a powerful force gangs can be. As a psychologist for the State of Nevada, Jan saw how few young black men in prison had a positive role model. In Shaka she sees a means to reach to these men discarded by society.